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The 24 Best Irish Whiskeys Worth Drinking Right Now - A Top Notch Tasting List for Any Budget


Irish Whiskey Lay Flat
"There is no bad whiskey. There are only some whiskeys that aren’t as good as others."
-Raymond Chandler

Irish whiskey, believed to be one of the earliest distilled spirits, likely originated in the 1100s, when Irish monks brought back some learned techniques from southern Europe. Since its first official documented record in 1405, the production of Irish whiskey has undergone a tortuous evolution into the dynamic and delicious whiskey category we have today. Notable moments in history that caused changes would include the invention of the Coffey still, the notable taxation from the Crown, which saw a splintering away from traditional single malt techniques, and the hardships most distilleries faced through periods of prohibition and weak demand. What has emerged through all this hardship is a vibrant landscape of delectable drams that sprawl across your local bottle shop. You may be staring at a liquor store shelf right now, wondering which bottle is worth your hard-earned dollar...


Redbreast dream cask aged 30 years
A rare single pot still expression from Redbreast

First, we'll want to know what to look for on the label. Irish whiskey can take many forms, but thankfully, there are some rules that define the distinct categories of Irish whiskey. These categories typically taste quite different from each other, so you'll want to make sure you go for the right style for you.


Single Pot Still: Made from 100% malted and unmalted barley (in any chosen proportions) that were then distilled on a pot still at a single distillery


Single Malt: Made from 100% malted barley that is then distilled on a pot still from a single distillery


Blended: Made from any combination of mash makeups from any combination of distilleries, but normally a combination of malt and grain and typically


Single Grain: Made from other grains than barley, such as wheat or corn, that are distilled on a higher-throughput, flavor-stripping column still


My personal favorite styles are single pot still and, more recently, single malt offerings. All these categories are capable of producing great flavor, but those two typically tickle my fancy.


Bourbon barrels aging in a Kentucky rick house
Bourbon barrels aging in a Kentucky rickhouse, some of which are perhaps destined for Ireland one day

From here, the next biggest influence is going to be the barrel types that were used to age the whiskey. Because Ireland is scarcely populated with oak trees, most of the barrels used in the maturation of Irish whiskey are previously used barrels. Unlike bourbon, which has regulations necessitating the use of new, charred oak barrels for aging, Irish whiskey is free to use any vessel that exporters can spare. Common cask types employed are bourbon, sherry, port, and madeira.


There are many further factors you can dive into by reading my full reviews of each whiskey below. Note that some of these may have batch-to-batch variation that occurs depending on the release year. I wrote about dissecting bottle laser codes as well, if you need that helpful tool. I hope all these nerdy details have not been a bore, but alas, if they have, we're ready to move on to my personal recommendations now!


 

The Top 24 Irish Whiskeys as of 2024:



Triple Dog Irish Whiskey Review

A light, airy, and bright whiskey at 80 proof—this one also won't break the bank. The distinct bottle design certainly stands out on the shelf. Sipping through this one patiently leaves a little to be desired as a long-time whiskey enthusiast, but I can also see this being quite the crowd pleaser for its inherent drinkability.


 


Northcross Irish Whiskey Review

A subtle, sneaky whiskey that offers more than meets the eye if you take your time with it. This is another crowd-pleasing sip, offering chocolate and creamy tones for an easy-going dram. Try this one a few times before writing it off, as it was a fairly fickle pour for me. This clocks in at a neat 86 proof.


 


Redbreast Tawny Port Cask Edition Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Review

Redbreast usually comes out swinging. The tawny port cask edition ended up delivering an incredibly delicate fruit basket that was definitely worth sipping, but led to a few moments of nodding off. It's a thin whiskey with light flavors that don't quite shine, even at 92 proof. Peach and orange flavors will greet those willing to take this dram on!


 


Redbreast Small Batch Cask Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Review

I know that one is a mouthful. This release is also a bit of a cult favorite amongst bourbon drinkers because of the higher proof point of 117.4, so good luck finding this. If you do stumble upon one and want to sip it, you can expect buttercream, pound cake, spice, and unmitigated ethanol. If you're not used to the heat, this one may overwhelm you as it cranks things up with cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.


 


Blue Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Review

Another doozy of a 117.4 proof cask strength Irish whiskey here; the Midleton profile gets washed away a bit by the ethanol on this one. Fans can expect to taste caramel, Easter candy, vanilla, and sweet wine influences in this rather rare bottling. I have some strong feelings that ultimately disagree with most of the consensus I see online here, so your mileage may vary on this release.


 

19: Glendalough Mizunara Finish Single Malt Irish Whiskey


I don't have a full review written for this release, but it had a fairly early exit in my blind bracket I ran for last year's St. Patrick's Day tasting. To be fair, it was matched up against Redbreast Lustau, which you will see as you scroll below! I sipped this 94 proofer at a whiskey tasting that included the whole Glendalough lineup, and this release was my favorite from the company. It's buttery, floral, and delicious enough to make this list!


 

18: Tyrconnell 10 Year Madeira Cask Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Tyrconnell !0 Year Madeira Cask Single Malt Irish Whiskey Review

Here's a funky one... Madeira casks impart a wonderful balance between sweet and savory as salty and nutty flavors swirl around peach, pear, and coffee cake. This is one I don't find myself revisiting often, but when I do, I'm always content.


 


Tyrconnell 16 Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey Review

This earthy dram is well worthy of exploration. Dark chocolate, salted caramel, sugar cookie, and a light, sugary cinnamon mix make for a decent sip. A lengthy maturation in bourbon barrels means this is a whiskey that remains supremely drinkable.


 


Yellow Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Review

Oh yes! This is sweet springtime in a glass. Yellow Spot Irish whiskey embodies the single pot still category perfectly, with notes of sweet strawberry, plum, and creamy hot chocolate. All this comes together to result in a delightful 92 proof dram fit for a whiskey drinker of any skill level.


 


Bushmills Black Bush Blended Irish Whiskey Review

This budget-friendly, 80 proof, sherry-forward whiskey has always had a place in my heart. The sherry casks utilized on this release push forward a sweetness that is unmistakable. Hints of copper, molasses, and a thick, viscous lemon frosting highlight the start of a great sip. The finish carries caramel and toffee to a wonderfully complete whiskey.


 


Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey Review

This is the only single grain whiskey that made the list. It's very different than the rest, so pay attention. Fruit parfait and nerds effervescence lead, but then things turn savory. Flat milk and coffee beans are a surprise before the fruitiness returns with a syrupy grenadine consistency. This is a really interesting whiskey worth grabbing.


 


Bushmills Prohibition Recipe Blended Irish Whiskey Review

The Thomas Shelby label has already hooked you if you are a Peaky Blinders fan. Thankfully, the whiskey inside is also quite good, with notes of bready caramel, zesty orange peel, dark butterscotch, and strawberry rhubarb pie. This was a big surprise for me when I first discovered it after my long-time favorite Black Bush got a bit tiresome.


 

12: Redbreast 21 Year Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey


Although this one boasts a mighty age statement, it's actually on the lighter end of the flavor spectrum. Fans of the citrus-forward flavors of gin will find this one to be right up their alley. It's impossibly balanced for a whiskey, and you might easily forget there is 92 proof behind this sip!


 


High N' Wicked The Wild Rover Single Malt Irish Whiskey Review

We're really getting into the good stuff now. Vanilla, rich oak, tea, honey, and molasses make for a bold 117.4 proof sip. The tingling linger shows off plum, raisin, crème brûlée, and a decadent array of sweet cinnamon. Check out the full review on this one!


 


Bushmills 16 Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey Review

This is one of those whiskeys you could get lost in as nostalgia, music, and delicacy culminate in a dreamy experience. Grape skins, peaches, warm bread, and biscotti are the champions of an ephemeral whiskey experience.


 


Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Review

This single pot still Irish whiskey is a great change of pace as notes of pear, honeysuckle, sweet cream, and pie crust come together in sweet complexity. It's a refreshing whiskey meant to be sipped under the warm sun, where chocolate and sugar cookie dance in a short linger you will find yourself savoring over and over again.


 


Gold Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Review

A newer release, recently one-upped again by a 13 year offering, sneaks into the top 10 with a wonderfully deep character. This whiskey offers brown sugar, nutmeg, vanilla, nutmeg, and spice cake in a wonderfully complete Irish whiskey. Gold Spot 9 year rings in at 102.8 proof.


 


Redbreast Lustau Edition Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Review

This is one of those whiskeys that just gets better with time. As this bottle oxidized through the years, I found myself loving it more and more. A strange phenomenon, but a welcome one. You can expect to find a balanced 92 proof sip that shows off creamy buttery tones, bodacious sherry influence, and a deeply oily mouthfeel.


 


Teeling 28 Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey Review

Another doozy of an age statement here, but damn, this is a good whiskey. With notes reminiscent of old Brora, fans of single malt whisk(e)y will find plenty to love here. Balance and integration are paramount as sea salt, hot black tea, allspice, and black pepper come together in a cacophonous but beautiful rage. The finish is more delicate with caramel, honeysuckle, and peach rings. Check this one out for sure if you have access.


 



This is a whiskey that has stood up to many blind tastings. It has an undeniably delicious quality to it. Flavors one could expect to find would be an earthy backbone before black pepper, allspice, caramel, wine, and marshmallow dance on the tongue. Sip this one slowly; it's 92 proof and full of greatness!


 


Redbreast 12 Year Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Review

This one might come as a surprise given its availability, but for me, this is a functionally complete Irish whiskey. It's creamy for days, offers incredible depth, and lingers forever. It's too beautiful to write in short form, so if you're interested in tasting notes, you'll have to read the full review.


 


Redbreast PX Edition Pedro Ximenez Sherry Finished Irish Whiskey Review

Holy smokes, this 2022 release really blew my socks off. Leading with bold cherry, crème brûlée, and sweet toffee, this 92 proof Irish whiskey is one for the record books. The mouth coating is lovely and thick, as earthiness greets caramel, creamy vanilla, and coffee bean. Just wow.


 


Redbreast 27 Year Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Review

Though the price tag on this is high enough to scare off most whiskey budgets, this is one I do believe is worth the price of admission. It's a full-volume whiskey bottled at 106.2 proof that just sings. Punchy citrus tones introduce a juicy array of red fruit and a thick, oily, viscous mouth coating. Buttercream frosting, lemon pudding, scone, and freshly brewed coffee deliver exquisite depth and balance. The finish is long, smoldering, and well-poised. This is one of my favorite whiskeys of all time, and I am glad to have a bottle to share amongst friends.


 

1: Redbreast Dream Cask Fifth Edition Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey


Goodness gracious. This has all the hallmarks of a dusty whiskey produced 100 years before its time. I've had the great pleasure of sipping some pre-prohibition bourbon, and this whiskey reminds me of some of those leather bombs. Gorgeous plum, fig, pear, and raisin sing through every second of this exquisite liquid. Two preconceived notions were broken by this pour for me. This bottle single-handedly proves that one, high-proof Irish whiskey can be delicious, and two, 30 years is not too long to spend sitting in oak. My goodness, Billy Leighton and David McCabe, take a bow. I have to ask: Did you see this one coming?


 

In Summary:


Best Overall: Redbreast Fifth Edition Dream Cask

Best Readily Available Option: Redbreast 12 Year

Best Sub $50 Budget Option: Bushmills Prohibition Recipe

Best Splurge: Redbreast 27 Year


 

What a lovely category Irish whiskey is. Drop a comment down below if you have thoughts on this curated list of some of the best Irish whiskeys out there!



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